Starting your own business can seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re working with a limited budget. However, there are plenty of low-cost business ideas out there that have high-profit potential and are relatively easy to get up and running.
With some effort and creativity, you can launch a new venture on a shoestring budget. That’s what this article will cover — business concepts that require little upfront investment but have strong chances of earning a good return.
These ideas can be started part-time while you maintain your current job or studies. They primarily involve online services, offline services, and product-based ventures.
Most also require only a computer, internet connection, basic supplies, or affordable equipment. With an online presence, social media marketing, and quality customer service, these low-cost ventures can grow profits over time.
The following sections will outline the details of each business concept, including how to get started, operating costs to expect, and tips for success. I hope that these ideas inspire you to launch your own small business with as little risk as possible.
Read also: Online Business Ideas That Make Money
Low-Cost Online Business Ideas
Let’s start with ideas that you can do anywhere you are with an Internet connection and a few tools for work.
1. Freelance Writing and Editing
Freelance writing and editing is one of the most accessible online service businesses. All it requires is a computer, an Internet connection, and writing skills. You can offer various writing and editing services on a freelance basis, taking on projects from clients around the world.
Some services to consider include:
- Blog and website content writing
- Copywriting for marketing materials
- Ghostwriting ebooks, articles, reports
- Proofreading and editing
- Grant and proposal writing
- Academic writing such as thesis editing
To get started, create a profile on freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, or build your website and promote your services therein. On freelancing sites, you bid on existing writing jobs that match your skills or approach potential clients directly.
Having samples of your previous work ready will help you get hired. Clients need to see the kind of work they can expect to get.
Besides a computer and Internet connection, you just need software for writing like Microsoft Word. Over time, you can invest in any specialized tools for more productivity.
Focus on building a portfolio of clients and positive reviews. Provide fast turnarounds, communicate regularly with clients, and deliver high-quality work.
How much can you earn from freelance writing and editing? While rates can vary greatly, expect anything from $20 an hour. Still, freelance writing is scalable and profitable once you attract regular clients and multiple projects, and with experience, you can raise your day rates.
2. Blogging Business
Starting a profitable blog is one of the most accessible low-cost business ideas, requiring very little upfront investment. All you need is a domain name, which typically costs less than $20 per year, and a blogging platform.
Free options like WordPress.com or Blogger allow you to build your site without hosting fees. But I would recommend getting a hosting plan so that your site looks more professional (so it’s no longer mysite.blogspot.com but rather mysite.com).
From there, you’ll want to:
- Research popular niches to find a topic you’re passionate about and have some expertise in
- Produce high-quality, engaging content on a consistent schedule, such as one to two posts per week
- Optimize each post with a relevant title, description, and inclusion of images or other multimedia to boost your ranking on search engines like Google
- Actively promote your new content across social media platforms to drive traffic to your site
Over time, as your blog grows an audience, look into monetization methods like:
- Promoting affiliate products related to your niche
- Offering sponsored posts or branded content
- Google AdSense or Mediavine for advertising revenue
- Selling your digital products like ebooks or presets
With just your laptop, you can build an online business from anywhere in the world. Blogging provides the flexibility to scale your business at your own pace and generate profits through multiple passive income streams.
How much can you earn from blogging? The amount of money depends on the effort you put into your blog. Some bloggers make $100 a month while others make $100,000 a month!
3. Social Media Management
Social media management is another low-cost online business idea with a lot of potential. As more companies recognize the importance of social platforms to reach customers and drive sales, the demand for social media experts continues to grow.
As a social media manager, you can offer services like:
- Posting engaging content
- Scheduling posts
- Analyzing metrics
- Running campaigns
- Responding to customer queries for multiple business pages or profiles
The great thing about this business is that most of the work can be done remotely through an online dashboard. You’ll need basic computer skills and a strong understanding of major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
You can get started for just the cost of some business cards or a simple website to showcase your services. Reach out to local small businesses and freelance your services to build a portfolio.
With experience, you can take on more clients and cover multiple platforms. You could potentially hire additional managers as your agency grows.
How much can you earn from social media management? You can either work as a freelancer on a hourly basis or sell monthly packages based on the tasks involved. You can earn around $30 per hour or sell packages starting from $1,000 a month.
4. Virtual Assistant Services
Another feasible low-cost online business option is to become a virtual assistant. As remote work becomes more common, many individuals and companies are outsourcing administrative and back-office tasks.
VA services vary from client to client. But as a virtual assistant, some common services to offer include:
- Scheduling appointments
- Data entry
- Website maintenance
- Email management
To get started, you simply need a computer, an Internet connection, and communication platforms like email and phone. You can promote your skills on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Indeed.
To build a solid portfolio, start by freelancing for small businesses and individuals at first. As your business and client list grows, you can hire additional assistants to handle the workload.
How much can you earn as a virtual assistant? You can earn anywhere from $10 to $100 per hour depending on the client you work with and the services you provide.
5. Online Tutoring
Online tutoring is another business that has low startup costs and allows you to work from anywhere. If you have expertise in subjects like math, science, English, foreign languages, or test prep, you can leverage your knowledge through one-on-one or small-group online tutoring sessions.
All you need is a laptop or desktop, a reliable Internet connection, and a comfortable workspace. Popular platforms like Varsity Tutors, Wyzant, and Tutor.com make it easy to create a profile, set hourly rate, and find students searching for help.
You can also promote your services locally on sites like Care.com. Use video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet to host live virtual lessons.
It would help to have a dedicated tutoring space and professional attire. Doing so helps create the right learning environment for students online.
How much can you earn from online tutoring? The amount varies depending on the number of students and subject (an Algebra tutor will earn more than an English language tutor). The average hourly rate for tutoring is $50 per hour.
6. Becoming an Influencer
This, I would say, has the lowest cost among the listed low-cost business ideas. What do you think about starting a real business using just your smartphone?
There are various platforms to start your influencer journey. But most of them are saturated and not so friendly to new influencers who don’t think outside the box.
One emerging opportunity is building an audience and becoming an influencer, especially on TikTok. The platform makes it easy for everyday creators to gain followers thanks to its very effective algorithms.
To get started, simply download the app and begin posting engaging, authentic content focused around a specific niche or interest – it could be anything from cooking to comedy to gaming. TikTok’s short video format lends itself well to creativity.
Consistency is key, aiming to post 1-2 times per day. As your following grows, you can begin monetizing your influence in several ways, including:
- Affiliate marketing
- Brand sponsorships
- Selling your own products and services
- Earning rewards from your audience for hosting live sessions with them (a popular way)
What’s more, TikTok presents another interesting monetization method not seen on other platforms. This is the Creator Fund, which rewards top creators.
How much can you earn from becoming an influencer? The sky is the limit here. You could earn as much as football or basketball players from being an influencer if you grow big enough to work with the world’s giant brands.
Low-Cost Service-Based Business Ideas
The world is online nowadays. So, most of the offline ideas I’ll list here are actually hybrid, in that you can offer your services or promote yourself online and do the work in person.
7. Pet Sitting and Dog Walking
Pet sitting and dog walking are great business ideas for animal lovers that have a low start-up cost. All you need is your phone, transportation (car, bike, etc.), and basic supplies like poop bags and a leash.
You can get insured and certified (to differentiate yourself from the pack), create profiles on platforms like Rover.com and WagWalking.com, and start accepting bookings. Promote your services locally through flyers, Nextdoor, and Facebook groups as well.
As a pet sitter, you can offer services like:
- Daily dog walks
- Overnight pet sitting in your own home or the owners’
- Mid-day visits where you check in on pets who can’t be left alone 9-5
When it comes to pet sitting, trust is needed. You can gain people’s trust by building loyalty with regular clients and gathering positive reviews.
How much can you earn from pet sitting and dog walking? You can charge between $20 to $30 a day and even double the rates per night.
8. Lawn Care or Landscaping Business
A lawn care and landscaping business has low start-up costs and opportunities for growth. All you need is a mower, trimmer, hedge clippers, and other basic equipment that can be found used to keep initial investment low.
You can offer seasonal services such as mowing, edging, weeding, and fertilization in the spring or summer and leaf removal and cleanup in the fall. For a small additional investment, consider expanding to landscaping work like mulching, planting, pruning, and light construction.
You can promote your services on Nextdoor and Facebook, and with flyers left in neighborhood mailboxes. Work on building a consistent customer base with reliable, quality work and reasonable rates.
It would help to hire additional laborers during peak seasons to take on more jobs. Over time, you can also upgrade equipment and take on larger commercial or construction projects.
How much can you earn from lawn care and landscaping? It’s wise to charge from $30 to $50 per hour if you work alone.
9. Car Detailing
Car detailing is the low-cost idea you can go for if you’re detail-oriented. It’s all about improving the interior and exterior of vehicles.
To start a car detailing business, you simply require basic cleaning and polishing supplies which can be purchased for a few hundred dollars. Some of the tools to invest in are a pressure washer, buffers, shampoo, and waxes.
Operate out of your home garage initially to avoid commercial rent. You can also offer mobile operation whereby you work out of a van or truck with supplies to detail cars on-site at homes or businesses (this allows you to take jobs anywhere).
Because customers value convenience, some of the top services to offer as a car detailer are:
- Basic washes
- Interior or exterior detail packages
- Paint correction
- Headlight restoration
- Engine cleaning
You can land gigs by reaching customers through word-of-mouth, supplying flyers at car washes and dealerships, social media ads with before and after photos, and joining car clubs. You’re likely to get more jobs if you offer deals for first-time clients.
How much can you earn from car detailing? A complete interior or exterior service can cost anywhere from $150 to $250, based on the vehicle’s size and the thoroughness of services offered.
10. Event Planning Business
Do you like being social and making things happen during family gatherings and parties with friends? If so, event planning is a business idea that you may like.
To get started, focus on establishing your online presence. Create a polished website that showcases your event planning style and experience.
Be sure to include high-quality before and after photos from any past projects you’ve worked on (even as a volunteer). In addition to your website, set up professional profiles on all major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Word-of-mouth marketing works like a charm here too.
As a person working solo, it would help to specialize in specific event types. These include weddings, corporate events, birthdays, and holidays. to build expertise.
Be sure to join local chambers, business groups, and wedding planning forums to meet potential clients and vendors. It would help to have trusted venue owners, caterers, and photographers on speed dial for effective partnerships and zero disappointments.
How much can you earn from event planning? While you could choose a flat fee, it works fairly if you charge a percentage of the event’s total cost. This cut ranges from 10 to 20 percent.
Low-Cost Product-Based Businesses
If you prefer selling tangible items because of your sales skills, there are numerous great ideas for you too.
11. Crafts and Artisan Goods
Whether you enjoy knitting, woodworking, jewelry-making, or other crafts, turning your hobby into a business can be done with minimal financial investment. First, you develop your product line by experimenting with different materials, designs, and styles.
You can work from a small crafting corner in your home to keep the costs low first and get an affordable workshop or studio later. Having a wide variety of goods ready to sell is essential for appealing to different tastes.
To start selling, simply set up an online storefront through a site like Etsy to sell your items to a large built-in audience and only pay some selling fees. Now, while your digital presence is important, local selling opportunities can also boost sales and visibility.
Look for craft fairs, artisan markets, and pop-up shops in your community where you can interact with customers face-to-face. You can also contact local boutiques and gift shops about consignment opportunities to sell your goods through brick-and-mortar retailers.
How much can you earn from crafts and artisan goods? The amount will depend on the types of goods you sell and the number of sales.
12. Baked Gods and Food Items
Baked goods and specialty food items are popular products that can be started from home with minimal upfront investment. To begin, research your local food licensing regulations to ensure safe, legal production.
Common low-cost options include:
- Baking cakes
- Making cookies
- Preparing jams or jellies
You can set up a home kitchen specifically for baking with basic equipment like a mixer, oven, and pans. Develop a menu of 5-10 signature items you can reliably produce at scale as demand increases.
Initially, focus marketing efforts on selling to local cafes, restaurants, and retailers on a consignment basis so your products get exposure. You can also set up a booth at farmers’ markets and community events on weekends to introduce your brand directly to customers.
With tasty, artisanal products and grassroots marketing, a specialty baked goods business has the potential for a steady income with very low startup fees outside of basic supplies, equipment, and liability insurance. Don’t scratch off the idea of owning a restaurant chain in the future!
How much can you earn from baked goods and food items? It would depend on how you price your items and the sales quantity. If you sell 100 $5 food items within a day, that’s $500, whereby the profit can be around 20 percent ($100 a day).
13. Candles, Soaps, and Lotions (Scented Household Items)
Making and selling scented candles, soaps, and lotions is a creative small business idea that requires minimal financial investment to get started. The supplies and molds needed to produce quality products at home are quite affordable.
What you need to do first is develop your signature fragrance blends by experimenting with different essential oils and scents. Once you’ve perfected a core collection of 5-10 items, set up an online shop through Etsy or your own business website.
You can also promote your brand locally through farmers’ markets, craft fairs, and community events. Bring samples for people to try and collect email addresses to build your email list.
Another thing you can do is talk to boutiques and gift shops about carrying your products on consignment. This approach allows you to sell through other retailers.
It’s possible to run this type of venture profitably from home for quite some time. You can consider upgrading facilities like a production space as time goes on.
How much can you earn from candles, soaps, and lotions? It would depend on whether you’re selling basic quality items at prices like $5 or luxury ones that cost $200 or more.
As you can see, various low-cost and profitable business ideas exist. You just need to select the idea you like and start pursuing it with determination because your efforts matter.
Even if people are making millions with an idea, you may still fail to reach what they’ve achieved if you don’t apply a proper strategy and be relentless. As a matter of fact, some ideas deemed to generate low profit can become highly lucrative for creative and strategic people.